Instagram has recently released a slew of updates which can affect the way you engage with your audience. New tools for business accounts, enhancements to Instagram Stories, as well as the ever-elusive shadowban, just to name a few. These new features mean that many of you may need to adjust your current methods for marketing via Instagram.
1. Hashtag Your Stories
Recently, Instagram enabled hashtags for Instagram Stories, which opened up search capabilities based on hashtags and locations. Adding hashtags to your stories opens up another avenue for engaging with a new audience.
You can add up to ten hashtags to each story. As this is still a relatively new feature, there isn’t a lot of data regarding the most effective hashtags, so test out different ones to see what will work for you.
Swipe up in order to add the Location tag for your story, which will potentially add your story in the Explore page for those in your area.
If you’re like me, and do not want to have a lot of clutter in your stories, you are able to shrink the location tag and your hashtags (or any text for that matter) to a single pixel.
2. Dodge The Shadowban
Instagram is cracking down on fake everything: comments, likes, followers, and influencers that have taken advantage of the system. One way they are doing this, is through their “shadowban,” which hides a user’s content on the search and explore pages if they appear to be spam. Using spammy hashtags, or adding hashtags into a comment are the top two ways of getting your posts shadowbanned.
Be smart about the hashtags you use. A general rule of thumb is to avoid any hashtags with over a million posts. Not only are those hashtags usually shadowban-worthy, but your post vanishes within seconds behind the slew of other posts. Focus on finding quality hashtags that help you to engage with your core audience, in order to avoid the ban hammer.
If you wish to check if a post was shadowbanned, you can do so at the following website: click here.
3. Watch Your Framing & Clutter
This suggestion is aimed at those who wish to have their work reposted and shared by others. While there are many artists who do not want their images reposted by feature-accounts, many others find this to be a great way to gain more eyes on their work. As one of the curators for @retouchingacademy, one of my biggest pet peeves is receiving submissions that have large white borders around the image.
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Before, when only square-images could be used on Instagram, utilizing apps to add borders made sense in order to share vertical and horizontal images. While there is still some cropping on vertical images, the addition of borders impedes the viewing experience. Mobile displays are small enough as they are, so ideally, the images shared on it should take up as much of that real estate as possible.
Another way that you may be losing viewers, is by adding in a lot of text, repost banners, or other clutter to your images. When sharing polished portfolio work, keep the above in mind. For behind-the-scenes and more casual content, the above rules don’t necessarily apply.
4. Use Links for Instagram Stories
You may have noticed on @retouchingacademy’s stories the ability to swipe up, which then leads you to a linked blog post. If you have content that lives outside of Instagram, this is a great way to finally link to that content. However, this recent feature is only for business accounts with more than 10k followers, and will hopefully be a feature that makes it way to more users in the near future.
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5. Tag Users Appropriately
Photography that requires retouching is rarely ever a one-person show. This means that a team of people came together to create the content that you are sharing on your Instagram, and need to be properly recognized for their contributions. Instagram displays a finite amount of activity temporarily when it comes to comments. As a result, if you just list user handles in the comments but never formally tag them, those users will likely never know they were tagged in the first place. This goes for Instagram stories as well, as user handles have to be formally tagged and underlined to allow those users to be notified, as well as to let your viewers engage with those users.
6. Engage If You Want Engagement
While producing and sharing great content is important for building your engagement, so is engaging with others. Just posting quality content isn’t enough, at least not at first. Engage within the hashtags that you use: like and comment on the content that speaks to you. Follow those that inspire you, or follow those that you wish to network with. While I strongly advise against spamming for the sake of engagement, as well as advise against following and immediately unfollowing, honest engagement within the circles you wish to grow in will be rewarded.
7. Post Daily, No Excuses
Just about every how-to article about Instagram contains this same piece of advice, and there’s a reason for it. While the algorithms that Instagram uses are still an ever-changing mystery, there are actions that seem to have consistent effects. Posting infrequently tends to yield less engagement per-post, so the only way to combat that is to post consistently. While posting multiple times a day can be too much to handle, posting just once a day will make a difference.
There are many tools out there that assist with managing an Instagram account. Later and Hootsuite are arguably the most popular applications for scheduling Instagram posts ahead of time. With Later, for example, users can schedule 30 posts a month under their free plan, which will satisfy the daily requirement. Make it a part of your workflow to schedule social media posts.
Social media, especially Instagram, have become an integral part of marketing for most photographers, so make the most of the tips above and let us know your experiences.